‘Disappointing’: Preservation commission chairman reacts to signing threatening legal action at official brothel site
Posted 6:49 PM on Wednesday, September 28, 2022
NATCHEZ — “It’s a little disappointing.”
That was Andy Sartin’s reaction when he was named on a threatening ‘I’ll see you in court’ sign posted by the owner of a property that once housed a notorious Natchez brothel.
Sartin, who chairs the Natchez Preservation Commission, said he meant no harm in questioning the condition of the property at 416 N. Rankin St. during the Sept. 14 meeting. During this meeting, Sartin shared the concerns raised by the public about the property. Owner JT Robinson, who was in the audience, was asked to provide an impromptu update on the restoration efforts.
Robinson said the committee’s actions at the meeting felt like “a slap in the face.” And this week, Robinson replaced the sign in front of the property with one that said “Natchez, where the old South still lives; I’ll see you in court! Andy Sartine.
Sartin said no formal motion was taken against Robinson at the meeting.
“I approached the board and said we needed to see if this particular property was facing negligent demolition,” Sartin said. “I can’t make a motion because I chair the council. No formal action was taken and therefore (Robinson) did not need to be notified.
The nine-member preservation commission, made up of volunteers appointed by city aldermen, is tasked with preserving structures in the historic Natchez district, Sartin said. Often this also means dealing with complaints from affected citizens.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people are calling us,” Sartin said. “Several people came to see me and told me they were worried about Nellie. Usually someone reports it and it doesn’t have to go through the preservation commission. He added that any legal action against the owners should be brought before the mayor and the council of aldermen.
“We don’t make laws,” Sartin said of the commission. “We are not legislative. We are administrative.
The next step would be to examine the structure to see if it faces “negligent demolition,” which means the house is exposed to the weather, Sartin said. If a home is found to be at risk of demolition due to negligence, a notice will be sent to the homeowner stating that something needs to be done to reverse the demolition process, such as replacing the roof, walls, windows, doors or whatever is necessary to enclose the structure and prevent further damage.
“It doesn’t require the owner to completely renovate it,” Sartin said. “All they would have to do is make it watertight.”
Robinson said that over the past few months, he’s been restoring power to the house so contractors can plug in their equipment, replacing the porch and getting estimates for the roof replacement. He purchased the property in 2019 and received the final deed in November 2021. He plans to restore the house and open it as a tourist attraction, such as a bed and breakfast or museum to its landlord. origin. The house was home to Nellie Jackson, who ran a well-known brothel until her death in 1990 after a disgruntled customer doused her in gasoline and set her on fire.
Robinson said he was considering legal action against the commission.
“If I can’t get enough money to restore Nellie, I have enough to get a lawyer,” he said.